The Kumbh is a gathering like no other. 100 million people got together in Prayag in 2013 with just one purpose - of their spiritual growth & liberation. Learn everything about the greatest gathering of mankind ! The Kumbh Mela is held cyclically at Nashik-Trimbakeshwar, Prayag, Haridwar and Ujjain in about every three years. Millions of people participate in this great fair without any marketing or invitation. This year, the celebrations at Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh is happening now. Come join the greatest gathering of humanity.
With a total 330 million gods, goddesses, and demigods, India remains as a land of religion. Hindus celebrate annual fairs on the rivers banks, and lakes shores, in the honor of Gods and Goddesses. In Hindu religion, fairs are called as 'Melas', which holds the prominent place during festivals. The origin of Kumbh festival is found in one of the most medieval Hindu Puranas - the Bhagavata Purana. The Samudra Manthan is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, the Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana.
According to the Hindu mythology, Durvasa Muni had cursed all Gods to lose their strength. All gods approached Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva to regain the strength. The demigods were instructed to churn the milky ocean(Ksheera Sagara) for Amrita (nectar of immortality). This is not possible only by Devatas, so Lord Shiva told gods, demigods and demons to conjointly churn the ocean and share it equally among them. The process of churning the ocean to get the nectar is known as 'Samudra Manthan'.
All gods, demigods and demons gathered on the shore of the Ksheera Sagara which was in the celestial region of the cosmos. The Mandrachal mountain became the churning stick, Nagaraja Vasuki (king serpents) served as the rope, and the Lord Vishnu himself took a form of a tortoise and became the base for the mountain, for the churning process. Then the Samudra Manthan started and continued for 1000 years of humans. It is said that one day of Devatas is equal to one year of human beings. The first to emerge in this process was a venomous poison. All gods were scared that if the poison fells in the ocean the whole world will get destroyed. Everyone sought the help of Lord Shiva to overcome this issue. In order to save the world, Lord Shiva decided to drink the poison. When Lord Shiva drank the poison, his wife goddesses Parvati held his neck and stopped the poison going in the body of Shiva, hence he got a name Neelkanth. As the churning continues, emerged Kamadhenu, Godesses Lakshmi, Airavata (vehicle of Lord Indra), and many other auspicious things arise from the ocean. Finally, Dhanvantari appeared with the "Amrit Kumbh", the nectar pot.
There are many stories about who snatched the Kumbh (pot of nectar), this is one of those. Lord Vishnu took the pot of nectar and flew away with Garuda. The guru of demons, Lord Shukracharya noticed this and alerted the demons to chase Vishnu. While carrying it, the pot was placed down at Prayag, Ujjain, Nashik, and Haridwar, to avoid Amrit pot going into demons hand. A few drops of elixir were dropped in these places. With the help of Sun, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, it was taken safely to heaven which took 12 demigod days. Since then these four places turned into holistic pilgrimages. This is why Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years at these four places. It is believed that these four drops gave mystical powers to these places.
Churning the ocean is directly related to the Kumbh Mela festival. Since it took 12 days (12 years of humans) to carry the Amrit to heaven, the Kumbh is held at sacred places in every 12 years. The place of Kumbh festival is calculated by the sequence of planets and stars state at 12th year. As per Vedas, the Sun is admitted as a soul life, the Moon as lord of mind, and Brihaspati (Jupiter) is considered as Guru of Gods. Jupiter takes 12 years to transverse the complete zodiac and 3 years to move from one constellation to other. The Maha Kumbh is celebrated every 12 years when Jupiter enters Aquarius. Aquarius is also symbolized as a pot pouring elixir on earth. When the Jupiter enters other constellations, smaller Kumbh Mela is held at one of these 4 places in accordance where Jupiter is.
Organising any event entails a massive marketing campaign, promotional activities, and sending invitations to guests. The Kumbh Mela is perhaps the only event in the world where no invitation is required yet millions of pilgrims gather to celebrate the holy event.
Apart from its primary bathing rituals, the social aspect of the festival also revolves around the various Yajnas, the chanting of Vedic Mantras, holy elucidations, traditional dances, devotional songs, programs based on mythical stories, and prayers. Religious assemblies are held where doctrines are debated, standardized and conducted by renowned saints and sages. A prominent part of the festival is the act of donations to the poor and helpless, to the saints, and to cows. Donations range from basic food and clothing to even precious metals.
The welfare of all beings, sharing of noble thoughts and maintaining good relationships with all the beings across the world is the core message prevalent during the Kumbh festival. Kumbh has been spiritually uniting the people of India and across the world since time immemorial and will continue doing so for years to come.
Bathing Dates (Shahi Snan)
The Kumbh Mela comprises of many rituals including bathing ritual, which by far is the most significant ritual performed at Kumbh. Millions of pilgrims take part in the Kumbh bathing ritual at the Triveni Sangam. Performing this sacred ceremony is in accordance with the belief that by submerging oneself in the holy waters, one is purged of all their sins, release themselves and their ancestors from the cycle of rebirth and ultimate attainment of Moksha. Along with the bathing ritual, the pilgrims also worship on the banks of the holy river and participate in discourses from various sadhus and saints.
Although taking a dip in the sacred waters on all days of Prayagraj Kumbh beginning from Makar Sankranti (first day of the month of Magh, when the Sun enters Capricorn) is considered holy, yet there are some specific auspicious bathing dates. There are magnificent processions of saints and their disciples, and members of various Akharas (religious orders) take part in the ritual of Shahi Snan also known as ‘Rajyogi Snan’ at the start of Kumbh. Shahi Snan is the central highlight of Kumbh Mela and the most important part of the celebration. It is only after the Shahi Snan is complete, that people are allowed to take the holy bath, in the belief that the people will get the added advantage of the essence of holy deeds and thoughts of the saints by taking the dip after them.
Makar Sankranti: (15 Jan, 2019) This day marks the entry of Sun in its next astronomical position as per the Hindu calendar. This day marks the beginning of donations at Kumbh Mela. It is customary for pilgrims to donate as per their will.
Paush Purnima: (21 Jan, 2019) Paush Poornima is the 15th day in the month of Shukla Paksh of the Hindu calendar month Paush. Poornima signifies the rise of the full moon. The Kumbh Mela’s unofficial beginning is marked by this day. This day also marks the beginning of Kalpvasa.
Mauni Amavasya: (4 Feb, 2019) It is widely believed that on this date the planetary positions are most favorable for bathing in the holy river. On this day, Rishabh Dev, considered as the first sage broke his long vow of silence and bathed in the holy waters at Sangam. The maximum number of pilgrims are found in the mela on this day.
Basant Panchami: (10 Feb, 2019) This day is indicative of the changing of seasons and marks the arrival of Goddess of Knowledge Saraswati as per Hindu Mythology. Kalpavasis wear yellow colored clothes this day to mark the importance of Basant Panchami.
Maghi Purnima: (19 Feb, 2019) This day is known for its association with the worship of Guru Brahaspati and the belief that Hindu god Gandharva travels from the heavens to Sangam. This day sees a surge in pilgrims at the holy ghats owing to the belief that they will be guided to heaven in their humanly form.